This story is by Al Toman and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
He looked at himself in the mirror atop his dresser in his bedroom and adjusted the lapels of his black casual jacket. He wore the pleated light blue button up shirt that she adored. She saved her money and bought it for him. He reached into the dresser drawer then placed his foot up on the metal bed post rail. He polished his shoe with the buff cloth then switched, polishing the other spitting on a scuff. He returned the cloth to its proper place and looked into the mirror again. He fitted the black western fedora onto his head, slightly tilted, the way she liked to see him wear it.
He could see her in the mirror standing behind him giving him the much needed encouragement.
“It’s time. I need to take the fall,” she said.
Her voice reverberated in his head. He saw her love that they shared since kindergarten through eleventh grade flash before him in the mirror. They were inseparable. They were each other’s lifeline right to the end.
Her mother left her father and her when she was very young. He was a wonderful father working two jobs as well as on the weekends to make as comfortable a home for them as possible. He was with the town police during the day and a security guard at a manufacturing plant at night. The deficit was that she never got to see and be with her father.
He buttoned the one button of his jacket, turned out the light, and left his room closing his door.
She sat down on her bed and reached for her black studded fitted jeans that he bought for her. She slid into her red three inch heels she found at the Salvation Army store, leaning as she carefully buckled the strap of each shoe. She stood up pulling on her polo shirt bearing his picture, one where he was in his fedora playing his guitar. She slipped into her black casual jacket that matched his. She flipped her long blonde hair to her back straightening it out. She walked in front of her dresser, carefully applying the red lipstick that matched her red shoes.
She could see him standing behind her watching her with love glimmering in his eyes, he loved her so much. She could see, hear, and feel his love. His mother died young, his father became a welfare alcoholic. When they met, he literally had no home, but she became his home. She asked him for tonight and he lovingly held out his arms to her in reply. She watched their memory replay in the mirror as she reached out touching the mirror, touching him.
She put down the lipstick and reached for her western fedora, placing it slightly back off her forehead, how he liked her to wear it. She stood at the mirror staring for what seemed to be an eternity, a lasting moment forever embedded into her short lived memory. She turned off the light and closed the door behind her as she left her room.
They met on the North side of the track on Avenue B. It was a brisk Fall evening, one month and two weeks after school started, they were in their senior year. It just turned dark with the cooling sunlight still reflecting off the clouds, making everything appear visible as darkened silhouettes in the moonless night.
They stood under the yellow colored streetlamp facing each other, only inches apart, hearing the sounds of Mother Nature of the night, the hum of the streetlamp, and their breath. He reached for her face as she leaned forward on her heels, holding his waist. They kissed passionately, the brims of their fedoras touching, bending.
The whistle blew in the distant. He kissed her nose sweetly and took her hand. She looked into his eyes then down at the pavement as they walked towards the track and turned to the left leaving the light of the streetlamp. They walked several feet then sat on the slight incline holding hands resting on his leg as she placed her head on his upper arm. They were shrouded in the shadows of the dark.
The whistle blew a second time, nearing their place of darkness. He looked at her as they both stood then squeezed her hand as they crossed the north rail of the track and walked the track east, away, embraced, their lips on one another’s, both expressing their love for each other.
The whistle blew several times as it passed Avenue B, the wheels screeching showering sparks, steel rubbing against steel.
The train came to a dead stop a hundred yards or so past their fall.